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Professor emphasizes human relationships, not data points

Kathryn Kao

February 27, 2018


After transferring to a different school, yet another teacher has found a welcome shift from worrying about test scores to worrying about student success.

Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education in UGA's College of Education, highlights the importance of teacher-student relationships, rather than data points, in a blog post for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

"As often happens with kids in schools serving low-income populations, administration [emphasizes] data, data, data," he wrote. "At faculty meetings, data were mined to death, along with this teacher's spirits."

According to Smagorinsky, developing solutions according to numeric profiles often misses the point because these numbers tend to point to deficiencies rather than student assets and potential.

After transferring to her new school, the teacher was struck by her principal's involvement and interest in her students. Unlike many teachers who rarely see their principal outside meetings, she often saw her new one in the hallway engaging with students in between classes and in meetings about their school experience.

"What a change she found in her new environment," wrote Smagorinsky. "In meeting new faculty, the principal emphasized three points: hard work, deep love of students, and continual growth."

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